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Trump Announces U.S. Withdrawing from Nuclear Treaty with Russia; U.S. to Withdraw Troops by the Thousands from Afghanistan; RFK Granddaughter Found Dead at Family Compound; Replay of Marianne Williamson (D) Interview about Past Remarks on Antidepressants. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- intermediate-range missiles. That's weapons with a range of about up to 3,000, 3,400 miles. This was a treaty negotiated by Ronald Reagan. It is now gone.

[07:00:13] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blames Russia for violating this treaty and says Moscow is solely responsible for its demise.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, the U.S. is preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan in the hopes of reaching a peace deal with the Taliban. Sources tell CNN the Trump administration has already begun scaling back personnel at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. They say the goal is to cut half of the embassy staff by the end of September.

Let's cover all of this. We have CNN's Kylie Atwood. She is live in Washington with all of the breaking details -- Kylie.


This day is the first day that the INF treaty is now dead. Now, the U.S. told Russia that they would be formally withdrawing from the treaty six months ago if Russia did not come back into compliance.

Now, Russia hasn't been complying with the treaty for about six years now, dating back to the Obama administration. They have deployed these missiles that are actually prohibited by the treaty.

But what the U.S. can now do, now that the treaty is over, is that they can start developing and testing their own version of these missiles to compete with Russia in this space.

Now, a senior administration official told me that these tests are not considered to be provocative, and that's because they are initial tests. The U.S. is years away from potentially deploying these missiles in the countries surrounding Russia. That would take a while.

But what we are monitoring today is the fact that there are a lot of experts who are worried about an arms race breaking out, now that this treaty is no longer.

The other story that is very important today is that the Trump administration is in the process of scaling down its personnel footprint at its embassy in Afghanistan.

Now, that is the largest U.S. embassy worldwide, and they are looking to cut the personnel by 50 percent. Now, the State Department tells me this is not a haircut reduction. Rather, it's something that they are doing to look evenly across the sections and see where they can still maintain their presence, do the job on the ground, but cut personnel, because the embassy has ballooned.

The other thing that's important to note is that this comes as the U.S. continues to negotiate with the Taliban. And they are looking to decrease the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by about -- to about 8,000 to 9,000 troops over the next few months. That's from the 15,000 that are there now -- Alisyn and John.

BERMAN: All right, Kylie. I'll take it. Kylie Atwood, thank you very much. Important reporting there.

Joining me now is General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander, and David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst and a national security correspondent for "The New York Times." He's the author of "The Perfect Weapon."

General Clark, I want to start with you. Supreme allied commander of NATO. So for years, you lived under and commanded under the protection of the INF treaty. This was a significant agreement between the United States and Russia, where an entire class of missiles was destroyed. The only time in history, I believe, that's the case.

So now that this treaty is over, and I understand there's bipartisan agreement that Russia was violating this treaty, now that this treaty is dead, what's the significance?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, I think it does mark one more ratchet up on the movement toward a more adversarial relationship with Russia.

And the United States didn't really have a choice in terms of coming out of this treaty, because the treaty wasn't effective; Russia had violated it.

The United States will be developing the missiles that will extend the range. We're going into a new competition, a military competition, including a competition with nuclear arms, against developments that Russia and, to some extent, China are making.

And everyone -- no one wants to do this. It's expensive. It's dangerous. But it's necessary if we're going to maintain our security in an uncertain world.

David Sanger, one of the things we've learned this week is that President Trump talked to Vladimir Putin again about fires in Siberia, but apparently not about the infractions in the INF treaty. So it begs the question: what is the president getting out of his relationship with Vladimir Putin if he's not talking about a nuclear arms race? DAVID SANGER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's a

fascinating question, John, because at almost the same time that the president was talking to President Putin, we were being briefed by administration officials who were talking in quite fiery language about how the Russians had had six years to correct the violations of the treaty, how they have lied about the creation of this missile, how they'd finally been presented with evidence in recent months that the U.S. had. That they had a missile that they were deploying and a large of battalions in violation of the agreement. It was a pretty hard-core Cold War era kind of briefing.

[07:05:14] And then you have the president coming out and saying, "Well, we talked about fires" and saying, "Oh, Russia wants a treaty. I want a treaty."

Now, part of the complication here, John, is that, while the immediate cause of pulling out of this was Russia, the real focus is on China. That if the U.S. ends up deploying this weapon, it's much more likely to deploy it in Asia. Almost all of China's missile fleet is of this category.

But of course, they were never a signatory to the treaty, because they weren't a significant nuclear player when it was put into effect in 1987. Or at least they weren't for this range of missiles. And so this is going to be pushed back against China, and I think that underscores why we're concerned about an arms race here.

BERMAN: General Clark, I want to ask you about the other major development overnight. And that is CNN has learned that the United States is going to withdraw a significant amount of diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan.

"The Washington Post" reporting that the United States will engage in a troop drawdown, beginning stages, perhaps, soon of coming to an agreement with the Taliban on a troop drawdown in Afghanistan, which can bring U.S. forces there down to about 8,000 or 9,000, which it was a few years ago. The significance there.

Is this the beginning of the end, general, in your mind, of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan?

SANGER: Well, I think it's the beginning of a new phase of the U.S. presence. The intent is to stay and have a counterterrorism capacity in Afghanistan. This is the original plan that Vice President Biden was pushing back in 2009 when he didn't carry the day in the councils of state at that time.

And the idea has been that you could maintain a presence there. You could still do counterterrorism activity, collect intelligence, provide a backstop to the authorities in Afghanistan. And -- and without the large troop presence and without -- and trying to end the hostilities with the Taliban. So maybe that will work.

But it seems to me from the timing of the announcement, or at least from the leaking of the information, that maybe we got a little ahead of ourselves on the State Department drawdown. Normally, that would be afterwards. And if you're still in the

process of negotiating and trying to reassure the government of Afghanistan that you're seriously committed to supporting them and not just abandoning them. Then you wouldn't want a lot of information like this out on the street at this point while the negotiations are not completed.

BERMAN: They're not complete. "The Washington Post" reports about 80, 90 percent there. But that last 20 to 10 percent, as you well know, is the very difficult part.

David Sanger, the other major international news this morning has to do with another relationship the president had that may not be bearing any actual fruit.

North Korea has once again tested short-range missiles. New weaponry that could target U.S. troops and South Korean citizens across the border. And once again, President Trump has dismissed the significance, saying, "Oh, well, this was never part of the promise that Kim Jong-un made to me."

But what does it tell you that Kim Jong-un is doing in spite of or maybe because of his relationship with President Trump?

SANGER: Kim Jong-un is skillfully using the relationship with the president to play for time here. He is, of course, as you've seen, tested missiles now, I think, three times. Short-range. Much more intended to spook the South Koreans than the United States.

The Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that he's probably built about 12 nuclear weapons since that big summit in Singapore 14 months ago. The president failed to get a freeze on both nuclear and missile development early on in his discussions with Kim Jong-un.

And now, with every violation, the White House goes out of its way to sort of say, "Well, this doesn't matter. This doesn't make a big difference."

The fact of the matter is, they have made no progress, zero progress toward denuclearization since the Singapore agreement was signed. And I think that Kim Jong-un has read him accurately, that because the president wants to campaign on tensions are down, things are better, he basically has got a free run to keep producing between now and the presidential election.

BERMAN: David Sanger, General Wesley Clark, thank you for this mini- Council on Foreign Relations this morning. I do appreciate your insight.

SANGER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, John.

There's been another tragedy for the Kennedy family. The granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, has died at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. She was just 22 years old.

CNN's Jean Casarez is live there with details.

This is horrible news, Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And this came about, apparently, very suddenly.

[07:10:03] The fire lieutenant tells CNN that yesterday around 2:30 in the afternoon, that emergency responders came to the Kennedy compound, which is right behind me, to transport someone to Cape Cod Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. And the family now tells CNN that that was 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill.

She was the granddaughter of Robert Kennedy, former attorney general for the United States, former presidential candidate, and the still living granddaughter of Ethel Kennedy. Her mother was one of the 11 children that that couple had.

And the family wrote a statement, issued it last night saying, "Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse. Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love. She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie and her grandmother Ethel, who said, 'The world is less beautiful today.'"

And it was in 2016 when she was a student at Deerfield Academy. She related in an op-ed some of the experiences that she was going through at that point in time. She talked about, "My depression took root in the beginning of my middle-school years and will be with me for the rest of my life. Although I was mostly a happy child, I suffered bouts of deep sadness that felt like a heavy boulder on my chest. Many people are suffering, but because many people feel uncomfortable talking about it, no one is aware of the sufferers."

And we do not yet know the cause of death of this young woman. But her family says that they -- she was beloved and, John, this is one more in a line of so many Kennedy tragedies.

BERMAN: Indeed it is. Jean Casarez for us in Hyannis Port. And just want to make note the struggles that this young woman had, or the struggles that so many are dealing with, and the struggles that this family has; the struggles that so many families have to deal with.

And on a related note, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, the most Google searched candidate after the first debate, but digging into her background has raised some questions about her positions on depression and antidepressant use. Her gripping interview with Anderson Cooper, next.


[07:16:26] CAMEROTA: Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson got viewers' attention Tuesday with some of the more memorable moments of the debate. And now, some of her past positions on issues like antidepressants are being scrutinized.

So last night, Anderson Cooper had a heated discussion with Williamson, trying to learn where she stands.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You've often brought up very legitimate concerns about doctors overprescribing antidepressants and other drugs. You've brought up concerns about, which are legitimate, about aggressive marketing by big pharmaceutical companies and possible harmful side effects of anti-depressant drugs.

To me those all seem very legislate concerns to raise. I've never heard you express, though, real concern for the stigma surrounding depression. And I know there are some people who say that you're actually contributing to that stigma by repeatedly saying that antidepressant drugs, you've used the word "numb" or "mask" you.

That -- isn't the fact is that depression numbs you and masks you, that while some drugs have dangerous side effects, not all drugs numb you or mask you? And telling a seriously depressed person that taking an antidepressant, they're going to be numbed, isn't that not a good message?

WILLIAMSON: I think that would be a not good message. And I've never given that message. That's just never the way I've spoken. And it's a complete mischaracterization of my commentary.

What I've talked about is a normal spectrum of human despair. Normal human despair, which traditionally was seen as the purview of spirituality and religion; that which gave people comfort and gave people hope and inspiration in their times of pain.

And with the advent of modern psychotherapy, a lot of the baton sort of passed from religion and spirituality to modern psychotherapy, which was an interesting transition.

And then over the last few years, very, very quickly, the baton was passed again to psychopharmacology. And so a nuanced conversation was loss regarding the nature of human despair; regarding the real phenomenon of human despair. This is what I have spoken about.

COOPER: Right. But you have -- you have used the word "numb" many times and "mask."


COOPER: You said, in fact, "Feds say one in ten Americans on antidepressants. Not a good sign. This is not a time in American history for any of us to be numbing our pain." If you're on an antidepressant, you're not numbing your pain. You're actually trying to feel again. No?

WILLIAMSON: Well, some people would argue that. Some people not. But the issue here, for me, is the difference between normal human despair. And if you are going through something like grief, for instance.

COOPER: Right. That's normal. That's normal. There's -- you write very eloquently about --

WILLIAMSON: About that -- and about --

COOPER: -- normal universal sadness.


COOPER: But do you acknowledge -- you have raised questions, though, about clinical depression in the past. I know in a podcast with Russell Brand, I think you called clinical depression such a scam. And then you backtracked with "The New York Times," saying you regretted saying that.

But you went on to say, and I'm quoting, "It's not always such a scam at all." It does seem like, again, you're suggesting that clinical depression is a scam.

WILLIAMSON: No. Do you want to -- do you want to let me, like, tell you what I think? Because I'll be glad to do that.


WILLIAMSON: What I believe is that, when we go through these issue of normal human despair. When we go through a divorce, when we have a pain over a breakup, when someone that we love has died, when we have been through a financial loss or failure. There is value sometimes in feeling the sadness, feeling that dark night of the soul.

COOPER: When Kate Spade died, you tweeted out, "How many public personalities have to hang themselves before the FDA does" -- excuse me. "How many public personalities on antidepressants have to hang themselves before the FDA does something, big pharma cops to what it knows and the average person stops falling for this? The tragedies keep compounding. The awakening should begin."

You do seem to be implying, A, that Kate Spade was on antidepressants, which we -- I don't think any knowledge of, and nor is it anybody's business. But you seem to be linking, again, famous people with antidepressants and suicide. And many people who are on antidepressants have had suicidal ideation long before they were taking antidepressants.

WILLIAMSON: And the FDA, there is a black-box warning on -- on antidepressants, that for people 25 years old and younger, the risks of suicidal ideation has increased rather than decreased. Do you know how many teenagers and young people --

COOPER: But not for -- not for people over 24. But not for people over 24. And again, just putting out a blanket tweet when -- in the wake, you know, on the day somebody has died, implying that they were on antidepressants, and that's what caused their suicide, that just seems irresponsible.

WILLIAMSON: Well, Anderson, I could say the same thing to you, given how many pharmaceutical companies advertise on your show.

COOPER: I don't know. I've never seen the ads on my show --

WILLIAMSON: So when you say to me --

COPPER: -- so I don't know what pharmaceutical companies.

WILLIAMSON: You might want to look at it.

COOPER: But I've got to be telling you, I'm not impacted --

WILLIAMSON: So when you say to me --

COOPER: I'm not impacted by who advertises on my show. I don't know who advertises on my show. It's not any interest to me. I'm sure it is to people in this company, but I don't care. What I care about is people who are dying, and there's a stigma for people actually seeking medical help for something that could save their life. And you know, that have saved my life --

WILLIAMSON: I have a 35-five-year --

COOPER: And I think it's important that, you know, when I read people saying, "Well, all these drugs caused suicide," I mean, that's just not true.

WILLIAMSON: I don't say that. Anderson --

COOPER: No, no, no. I didn't --

WILLIAMSON: -- I'm sorry, you said some -- you have not -- on this program, I'm sorry, you've said to me a few minutes ago, with all due respect, I felt very little respect here. I felt very little opportunity to say what I believe. And I feel the person who's had some blank statements said about them on this program is me.

I have simply never had the blanket conversation that you are now suggesting that I have had.

And when it comes to people who are suicidal, I have a 35-year career working with people in despair. I have had a 35-year career working with people in crisis. I've had a 35-year career working with people in pain. I have people whose psychiatrists sent to me to have worked with them. I have been up close and personal with people in their pain and in their despair for decades.

COOPER: I just -- I don't --

WILLIAMSON: And the idea that I am glib about that conversation --

COOPER: No, I never said you were glib.

WILLIAMSON: -- is a complete mischaracterization and misrepresentation of my career. And I'm sorry that you would choose to --

COOPER: I'm not casting aspersions on your career --

WILLIAMSON: -- to engage in that.

COOPER: -- or saying you're glib in any way. You are deadly serious about this, and you have very strong beliefs. And I am discussing them with you.

WILLIAMSON: I am not saying -- I don't --

COOPER: I just don't understand some of your public statements, and you've addressed them. And I think --

WILLIAMSON: Let me speak. Anderson, then let me speak. This is not a conversation that we're having.

COOPER: Well, I think it is. I just need to, you know, try to -- you say you didn't say stuff, and then I read you quotes. And I mean, this is a conversation.

WILLIAMSON: But let me explain. When people are taking antidepressants who have had serious, serious pain and serious depression in their lives, and they are helped by them, I'm happy for them.

COOPER: Yes. I believe that.

WILLIAMSON: I am happy for them. When I meet young people -- and I meet them all the time -- once again, I'm the one here who has had a lot of experience with people in pain.

COOPER: Sure. I think you have expressed your opinion tonight. You know, some of the language you've used, it has raised concerns. And I think it's fair that I ask those questions. And I think you've addressed them very well.


BERMAN: Anderson made the point that, for a lot of people, including him, he feels that antidepressants have saved lives. So he cares very deeply about this conversation. An important one to have.

This morning we want to make clear that Marianne Williamson has put out a statement on Twitter about all of this. She's clearly paying attention not just to that interview but our replaying of it this morning. She says, "Let me state it again. I'm pro-medicine. I'm pro-science. I've never told anyone not to take medicine. I've never fat shamed anyone. And today there's a new one. No, I don't support Scientology. The machinery of mischaracterization is in high gear now. Gee, did I upset someone?" she says.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, obviously, we don't want to mischaracterize any of her views. And I think that that's what Anderson was trying to do in terms of clarifying. And in terms of our coverage this morning, I think we're fascinated by what she has to say and pressing her on it. The reason that Scientology came up is because she, on her Facebook,

posted an article from a Scientology website that talked about antidepressants. So that's where that connection came up.

BERMAN: This is all based on her own record, things that she has said; and we are just relaying those things. Because as you make waves on the debate stage, people start paying attention more to your record.

CAMEROTA: So there's -- so there's -- That's the upside.


CAMEROTA: They care about you. We will have much more of Marianne Williamson's interview.

Plus, President Obama's allies strike back. Their message to the 2020 candidates that are going after his legacy, next.


[07:29:22] BERMAN: Really just saw that gripping interview between Anderson Cooper and Marianne Williamson about her record and things she has said in the past about depression and antidepressants. This all has to do, largely, with her success at the debates this week. A lot of people liked what she had to say.

CAMEROTA: They were very interested, at least. I mean, she was the top Googled candidate.

BERMAN: Yes, and people want to find out more about her.

Joining us now, Errol Louis, CNN political commentator; Sarah Isgur, CNN political analyst; and Bianna Golodryga, CNN contributor. Bianna, we were just watching again that interview. And Anderson was asking important questions, because when someone gets in a presidential race, you want to know not just where they stand on the issues, which she has done and she's answered those questions at the debate. But also who you are and where you come from.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And this issue in particular is something that we really haven't delved into. There's a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health. And just to hear this conversation, I mean, you blow through commercial breaks.